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School: The New War Zone?

Last night I was watching the evening news (which I try not to do too often and you’ll see why).  Basically, there are companies now spending money to produce school supplies that can shield teachers and students from bullets in the classroom.

Really?

I’m not naive enough to believe that gun violence is not a major concern in our world today.  I live only one town over from the horrible events of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  If anything, other than Newtown itself, my family and community was hit harder than most of the people in our country after that horrible day.  I have friends whose children lost playmates.  The church where all of the funerals were held also has a school that we seriously considered sending our girls to.

It was real.

That morning of December 11th completely changed my life and the life of my family forever.  I frantically called my mother to come watch the daycare children so I could go rescue my own girls from their schools. At that point, we thought there was a shooter (or shooters) on the loose and it was VERY real that our schools could be next.

The fact that the tragedy was so close to me made it much more difficult to move on.  I once again considered homeschooling the children but this time, it wasn’t for educational reasons, it was for their safety.

Eventually we let our babies back into the world.  Now each morning hug is a little tighter than the last.  I am careful of the words I choose before they get onto the bus and I work hard not to get frustrated or yell at them during busy mornings now because… what if?

But I still send them to school.

Why you ask?

Because I refuse to live my life in fear.  I refuse to teach my children to live in fear.  Because if I give in to fear, I’ve given up on hope.

And what about homeschooling?  Well, if I ever do decide to home educate I never want it to be fear-based and in response to a horrible event such as Sandy Hook.  I want it to be because it is the best form of education for my children at that time in our lives.  Period.  Because homeschooled or not, this is our children’s world and they will all eventually enter into it together.  Let’s focus on fixing it for them.

The idea that arming our children with bullet proof supplies as they get on the bus each morning to go to a place that should be filled with laughter, love and learning is just as crazy to me as arming all of our teachers and school staff with semi-automatic rifles to protect our kids.

Are we willing to allow this to happen?  Have we given up completely on our world and school has now become a war zone?

Harold Copping 1886 – The Dunce

Let’s just calm down a moment and take a closer look at things.  Fear can disable us and magnify things in an unrealistic way. In addition, our modern day access to information via television, IPads, IPhones, telephone, texting, Facebook and, well, you-name-it, makes everything feel like it is much more common than it truly is. Add in the fact that we are all still very wounded by the magnitude of Sandy Hook and other recent tragic you have a recipe for panic.

According to this 2013 CDC School Violence Fact Sheet, school associated violent deaths are still rare.  “Of all youth homicides, less than 2% occur at school, and this percentage has been stable for the past
decade.”.

Less than 2%?

Some more facts from this slightly older, but not outdated, Youth Gun Violence Fact Sheet:

  • During the 2009/2010 school year the odds of a student (age 5-18) being the victim of a school-associated homicide was one in 2.5 million. In comparison, the odds of a 5 to 19 year old being killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2010 were 1 in 16,000. (CDC, 2012).
  • Most school-associated student homicides involve a firearm and a single victim and offender (Modzeleski et al., 2008).
  • In 80% of school-associated firearm-related homicides and suicides, the weapons used were obtained from the home or from a friend or relative (Reza et al., 2003).

Now, this next comment may not be popular among all of my readers but if you notice that last statement “from the home or from a friend or relative”,  I have come to the following conclusions:
The answer to school gun violence is NOT making guns more accessible by arming our teachers or allowing free or easy obtained access to guns in our community. 
The answer is not to bulletproof our clothing, backpacks, whiteboards and underwear.
The answer is not to let media and our raw emotions get the best of us and REACT.
The answer is to be proactive.
The answer is to prevent and make guns less accessible to those who have no business having them.
The answer is to become more aware of our children, the people in our community and our world so that when we see someone is hurting, sick or struggling, we are able to be proactive and help them before a tragedy occurs in the first place.
Does this mean I wasn’t grateful when our local schools tightened up school security, installed stronger windows and doors and implemented a strict identification process for all pick-up procedures? 
I was thrilled.  
The truth is that percentages and chances go out the window when something like this happens in your community and our community needed to have something – anything – to help us feel safer sending our children back to school.  And, I am thankful for the administration who put these things in place for us.  Our upper level schools even hired Student Resource Officers which gave many parents peace of mind.  I’m not completely against them but research is not yet showing any significant benefit in their prevention of fatalities.

There comes a time where we have to put on the brakes, take a breath and learn to trust again.  We need to make change rather than reacting and allowing the chaos to continue.  
I’d rather help be the change. 
When I began to see the parents of the Sandy Hook victims slowly living again, speaking again and even sending their other children to school again, I knew that I could do it too.

After doing some googling for this post, I came across one of my favorite websites, Free Range Kids, who amazingly posted about this very same topic.  Guess what?  The clip that she shows in her post over a YEAR ago was the same clip on the news I saw last night.

Hmmmm see that?  The media is creating fear.  Using old content for new reactions.

Will you buy into it or stand against it?  

You have a choice.
Here’s a little video for those of you who may remember when we weren’t afraid of every.single.freaking thing outside of our front doors:

Breathe.  And let your kids play outside WITHOUT you today!

Some related blog posts you may find useful:

Living Without Fear in a Frightening World
Truthful Tuesday
The Truth About Waldorf School Verses Public Education
Look for the Light Posts

Feel free to share this article to help others just please keep the bio below in-tact: 

Eileen Straiton is a work-at-home mother to four daughters. She writes and publishes Waldorf inspired ebooks and facilitates ecourses for parents, teachers and caregivers at Little Acorn Learning. Eileen applies her love of nature-based learning in her work as owner and lead teacher at Little Acorn Playgarden in Brookfield, Connecticut. Visit her blog, Eileen’s Place, or her Facebook page, for more great ideas and activities.

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